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HAVANA, Cuba (CBSMiami/AP) — President Barack Obama has landed for his historic visit to the island nation of Cuba.
Air Force One landed in Havana around 4:30 p.m. Sunday.
— CBS News (@CBSNews) March 20, 2016
After meeting the the staff at the U.S. Embassy, the First Family took a walking tour of old Havana, meeting with Cubans on the streets.
“I think it’s a good idea for him to come to Cuba,” said one woman. “All the Cubans are excited about him being here.”
“A stalemate is breaking, and it’s very exciting,” said Martin Sampson who was visiting from Minnesota. “And I’m not sure what the implications are for the regime here of the stalemate breaking, but in the long run I hope it’s good for everyone. It’s time.”
During the tour, President Obama met with Cuban Cardinal Jaime Ortega who was influential in renewing ties between the two countries.
“I hope the U.S. Congress will life the embargo,” said one Havana resident. “If not today or tomorrow, soon, because we cannot continue to live like this.”
“It’s kind of opening the doors for the Cuban folks, and for us as well, to come down and be able to spend some money and have fun,” said Leonard Jefferson, an American who is in Cuba working on the new “Fast and Furious” movie.
Nestor Fleitas, a philosophy student who supports the Castro regime, said while he’s cautious about American’s foreign policy but is excited about this next step. He added that those Americans who say the U.S. should not deal with Cuba until it’s a democracy should talk with the people of Cuba first.
“It’s easy to suppress things that you don’t know,” said Fleitas. “How can you know something if you don’t talk with them? How can you know us as a people, as the Cubans we are, and you don’t talk to us? Of course we feel joy when we talk to Americans, or Colombians, it doesn’t matter. We want to know the world, as we hope the world wants to know us.”
On Monday, Obama will hold talks with Cuban leader Raul Castro and also hold an event with U.S. and Cuban entrepreneurs.
In the evening he and the First Lady will attend a state dinner hosted by Raul Obama.
President Obama is the first U.S. president to visit Cuba in nearly 90 years.